I remember sitting in my private office at my old real estate brokerage in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. My then girlfriend and I had a decent sales business going. We were in the top 20%; making a little bit of money; and helping a lot of people with their real estate needs. But as I sat in my office, I felt like there was more to life and more to business than the road we were on. That's when I decided to dig deeper to figure out what it was that I was missing. It was during this process that I discovered the AGE question that helped focus my effort and attention, and set me on the path to becoming the coach and consultant I am today. Following are three key questions that will help you to identify your passions so that you can operate with more clarity, and ultimately find fulfillment. Here goes...
What Makes You ANGRY?
That was the first question I asked myself. I use a bit of Marvel's Avengers to help illustrate the importance of this question. One of my favorite characters is the Incredible Hulk. On a normal day, Hulk exists as a pretty typical scientist. When something ticks him off, however, he transforms into a giant green beast that cannot be stopped.
Anger is an "e-motion" that causes you to move or take action. That action, just as is in the case of Hulk, can be either constructive or destructive. You owe it to yourself and your purpose to evaluate what it is that will cause you to transform from regular you into a force that cannot be hindered.
When I answered this question for myself, I realized what angered me most was seeing people going about life as if there were nothing more to existence than breathing in air. Having much potential, but improperly stewarded; living a devalued and cheapened life.
What is it that makes you angry? Take a minute and write down all the things that come to mind immediately. (Use notepaper or try our 20/20 Clarity Journal™). Don't qualify your responses or try to be politically correct. This exercise is about you and your purpose. Go ahead, write!
What Makes You GRIEVE?
After getting a little clarity about what pushed my anger button, grief was the next emotion I addressed. I asked myself what made me sad when I experienced, encountered or saw it in life. That's when it hit me and I started noticing some interesting things. It was seeing people hanging out on the streets wandering aimlessly; engaging in activities that were harmful to themselves and to others that grieved me the most.
Do you see the connection? The same type of situation that angered me also caused me grief. People not recognizing their value; being clueless about their purpose and living lives well below their potential both angered me and caused me grief. Wow!
Upon further reflection and evaluation I realized something that is key. Anger and grief are the same emotion with different manifestations. While anger typically led to some action (either positive or negative), grief on the other hand caused me to withdraw. I liken it to retreating into a cave. Perhaps, it's a variant of the fight or flight response: anger causing you to stay and fight; grief causing you to run and hide. But why is that?
I reasoned that grief is a result of feeling incapable of solving a problem. If you feel like you don't have the power to change something (whether true or not), then the defense mechanism is to avoid it altogether. If you cannot successfully stand and fight, the next best thing is to retreat to supposed safety. That's what grief does.
What are the things that you have been hiding from? What is it that saddens you that you feel you can do nothing about? Take another minute, use your journal and write them down. Note: it's ok if you begin to feel a bit emotional. That's sort of the point of this exercise: to connect you with the emotions that will cause you to move.
What Brings You EXCITEMENT and joy?
After the powerful conclusions I reached from the first two questions, I asked myself the final one listed above. Aside from a few toys, adventures and cool gadgets I'd like to have, what I found brought me excitement and joy made complete sense. Seeing people realize that they are significant and created with a purpose; helping them decide and act on that purpose; and finally helping them with the systems and tools to bring it excited me greatly. In fact, not only did it excite me, but it has brought me the most fulfillment and joy. After some planning and transition, I left full-time real estate sales and launched a successful coaching and consulting practice (REAL Smart Consulting, LLC) in 2015.
Return to your journal and write down the things that excite you. You shouldn't be surprised if you find what excites you is the exact opposite of what angers or grieves you.
The conclusion I drew from all this was a simple one. I could spend my life angry; I could spend it hiding from the things that troubled me the most; or I could decide to face them and do something constructive about them. Rather than moving away from grief, I could focus on pursuing the solution that excited me and brought me joy. Same is true for you. You can make the decision today to pursue the dream that you buried years ago. You can tackle the thing that you thought was impossible. You have the power to do something about the thing you are most passionate about. It is already in you!